There will be some of you out there who use Twitter
prolifically but also a great many who hear colleagues talking about it
and think “where do they find the time?” or “what’s all the fuss
Those who do use Twitter regularly are evangelical about it, so for
those who are still in the “I know what Twitter is but I haven’t got the
faintest idea where to start” camp, here’s a quick guide on how to get
started (and for those that still need convincing, why researchers
should use it).
I’m a researcher. How is using Twitter going to benefit me?A search in Google will come up with a long list of academics
explaining how Twitter has benefited their research, before and after
publication. There are some great articles and blog posts which explain
how you can use it to connect with other academics in your field, ask
questions (“crowdsourcing”) and spread the word about the type of
research you’re undertaking.
what happens after publication? This is where Twitter can be one of the
most valuable tools you can use to publicize your work, reaching people
who may never have heard of you or your research before, increasing
downloads of your article, citations (in time), and impact.
Working in tandem with your publisher, you can have a very
discernible effect on the reach of your article and the really exciting
bit is that you can see the impact immediately. And one of the best
things about Twitter is you can tweet, check your feed, and have
information come to you wherever you are, so long as you have a
smartphone or tablet to hand.
To show how it has impacted on journal articles, here is a recent example
of how a topic, an active academic, and the use of social media can
come together to raise the profile and impact of their research.
So how do I get started?Signing up to Twitter and creating your profile
Creating your account is quick and easy but it pays to take time to
craft your profile page – this is effectively your “shop window” so try
to make it unique, something that says who you are and what you do. Your
username can be your own name (e.g., @JohnSmith) or something a bit
more esoteric (e.g., @mathsgenius). Do remember, though, if you use your
own name it will be easier for others to associate you with your
Twitter account (hopefully a good thing, based on the types of tweets
you send out…).
Use your profile to tell people about your research and experience,
what you teach, and what your interests are. Link to your blog or
website too, so people can explore more, and try to add a photo so
people can recognize your tweets immediately on their feed.
Following me, following you…
So you’ve created your profile and Twitter has prompted you with whom
to follow – what do you do? Following the right people and
organizations automatically personalizes your Twitter feed (the list of
tweets that come up on your home page) and also the recommendations that
Twitter makes to you.
You are bound to have a list of colleagues who already use Twitter, so you can start with these.
But what about people you admire? Or organizations you have an
interest in? Media outlets you enjoy reading already, whether online or
in paper format? Once you get started you’ll realize there’s a wealth of
connections you can make, are interested in, or have some kind of
affiliation to. And by following some of the prolific tweeters you’ll
get a feel for how others craft tweets, the style that is often unique
to Twitter, and the shorthand used by everyone on it. Which brings us on
Writing that first tweet (and the one after that, and after that, and after that)
If you’ve never used Twitter before there are probably a few things
that have stopped you in the past, some of which might have been “how
are you meant to use a hashtag?” “what’s a retweet?” and “what on earth
can I say in 140 characters or less that anyone is going to be
interested in?!” So, putting your prejudices aside, here are some tips:
- Tweet about what you’re researching, how it’s going, what your
hurdles are, why people should be interested and link to your article,
website, blog, videos; in fact anything that means the reader can build a
picture of why they should be interested in your research.
- Shorten hyperlinks using sites such as bitly.com or tinyurl.com.
- Engage in Twitter conversations – retweet what you find interesting.
You can do this using Twitter’s retweet or you can add some context
(and interest) by putting your own comments, RT @username and then
pasting in the tweet you are referring to.
- Engage in Twitter conversations, Part 2 – respond to tweets, giving
your view and remember to always include the username of the person
you’re responding to (e.g., @JohnSmith).
- Use hashtags to engage with key topics and conversations (e.g.,
#openaccess). This will mean that your tweet will be picked up by all
those with an interest in the subject and you’ll become part of the
conversation. Don’t be afraid to create your own either – you’ll be
amazed at how this can make your tweet more visible.
thank people if they retweet you, ask questions, or tweet your thoughts
from conferences you are at. Once you get into it, Twitter is weirdly
addictive – are there websites that you visit every day? You’ll quickly
find Twitter is added to them.
Judging whether the effort is worth itYou’ve created your account, started tweeting about your latest
journal article, and now want to know whether all this extra work is
having any impact. There is a quick and easy way to check this. As a
Taylor & Francis author, you’ll have access to “My authored works”
once you create an account and sign in to Taylor & Francis Online. From here you can see how many times your article has been viewed and how many times it has been cited.
Now here’s a challenge – pick your latest article and send some
tweets about it. Tweet about the challenges you faced in writing it,
what you found most interesting or surprising, ask some questions around
the main thrust of the research, or try and draw some of your followers
into a Twitter conversation on the topic of the article. And try to use
hashtags if you can, to draw people in. Give it a week and then check
your article views. Have they increased? We’ll guarantee they have if
you’ve followed all of the steps above.
For all its clichés, social media really is changing the way we
communicate and, as researchers and academics, we want our work to be
discoverable and for people to engage with it. So give it a go and tell
us how you got on – we’re @tandfauthorserv and we want to hear about
your Twitter experience.
One Taylor & Francis author is a firm advocate of the use of social media and you can see Professor Andy Miah (below) or read the transcript,
talking about the importance of social media, why you should undertake
your own promotion to raise the profile of your journal and its
articles, and the impact of “DIY PR”.
Twitter success storySustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
- Tweeted by 496 accounts
- 669 tweets with a reach to over 1 million followers
- Picked up by the Huffington Post, SciDevNet and on R-bloggers and Natural Society blogs
- Over 8,000 article views in two weeks
Initially sparked by a press release from the authors’ institution,
this was supported by social media posting and e-marketing from Taylor
& Francis and interest in the article was sustained by the continued
tweeting of its lead author, Jack Heinemann (@Jack_Heinemann). His tweets
highlighted specific arguments, drew others into conversations, and
reached people who may never have been aware of this article otherwise.
Jack said in an interview with Taylor & Francis at the time,
“The attention this paper is getting is gratifying. I
am glad to know that at least some things I do as a research scientist
can have broad relevance to society and be timely.
Will it cause change? … The scale of the uptake of this paper
gives me some cautious hope that among the downloaders and the readers
will be those who will make a difference in converting the agriculture
we do now to the one we need for the future.”
Author Services Tweet your research